Celtic’s midfield is stacked with talent, with the current trio of Reo Hatate, Matt O’Riley and Callum McGregor all seeming to be irreplaceable.
There are plenty of options waiting in the wings to make a push for those starting positions, with David Turnbull, Tomoki Iwata, Odin Holm and Paulo Bernardo all gunning for minutes in this Celtic team. James McCarthy and new signing Kwon Hyeok-kyu, meanwhile, are so far out the picture it would be a surprise to see them appear during the remainder of 2023.
Given how solid and secure the current midfield is, it is beginning to look extremely difficult for the aforementioned four players to break their way into the starting XI. Two of these players arrived in the summer, but Odin Holm and Paulo Bernardo have only started one game between them so far, with the Norwegian starting in a disappointing exit from the Viaplay Cup in the second round stage at the hands of Kilmarnock.
Holm has had a mixed start to life at Celtic. He initially showed some impressive qualities from the bench, with his defensive work and progressive running being the main highlights of his game.
One thing that has been evident in his game, however, is his inexperience. This was was brought to the fore on the biggest stage of them all when the young Norwegian was given his marching orders just moments after coming on against Feyenoord in Rotterdam.
Minutes have been limited for Holm since this indiscretion, but if he can continue to show some of the qualities he showcased in his first few appearances for the club then more opportunities should present themselves to the 20-year-old.
The Portuguese midfielder hasn’t started for Celtic so far this season and opportunities presented to him have been few and far between. Whenever he has been called upon, it has been tough for the 21-year-old to have a real impact on the game with him being deployed with little time left in the game and in the majority of those minutes the match has been over and done with, with Celtic commanding a comprehensive lead on his arrival.
He has been featuring for the Portuguese Under-21s since his arrival at Parkhead, with the youngster even grabbing a goal in the thrashing of Belarus during the ongoing round of international fixtures.
Unlike Odin Holm, Bernardo is only at Celtic on a temporary basis, having signed for the club on deadline-day on a season-long loan with the option for purchase at the end of his stay in Glasgow.
Unless Bernardo begins to get further opportunities in the first-team, it is highly unlikely that Celtic will trigger that option to buy, but more starting opportunities for the Portuguese could help supporters and the manager really determine where the 21-year-old lies in the pecking order.
At his age, there is plenty of room for development in his game, and the potential of a highly-regarded player coming from one of the best academies in Europe isn’t going to be realised by keeping him on the bench.
JAMES MCKENZIE // Follow James HERE